It started with service limitations (controlled number of customers, safety distance, etc.), then we witnessed the total lockout. Measures that are absolutely necessary for the protection of public health, but which inevitably have put in serious difficulty many restaurants and bars, that will have to deal with a negative balance at the end of the year.
The Italian agri-food industry, amid a thousand obstacles attributable to international geopolitical choices and low attempts to discredit it on all fronts, instead seems to present a different picture, with even positive peaks in the short term, apart from bad weather. It is worth mentioning that this sector had an exceptional performance in 2019: exports of food products recorded a +5.3% compared to the previous year. Coldiretti indicates a record 7.9% increase in the turnover of the food industry in January 2020, before the explosion of the virus in Italy; Germany, France, USA, UK, Japan, Russia and China were, in order, the main markets.
It is difficult to predict when we will really get out of the state of emergency, but it is already possible to formulate some hypotheses about the future of one of the leading sectors of Made in Italy in the world: the restaurant sector. The scenario will be post-war for a few months and the starting point will almost certainly be linked to the rediscovery of regional values. We will start again from Italian customers, also because we will have to wait for the resumption of massive tourism, as we used to see in our cities. A local approach, recovering the healthy values of territorial food and wine, with the triple advantage of helping neighboring economies, having the certainty of consuming fresh products and, last but not least, enjoy them at convenient costs, due to a reduced supply chain. At the same time, also due to the events concerning health, there is already a noticeable increase in the attention of the consumer towards the healthiness of food and the increasingly pressing request to have certified products in their guarantee of healthiness. Local, yes, as long as it is truly healthy and authentic. Little or limited space for international cuisine, especially Asian.
Another issue on which we will have to focus, at least in a phase of recovery of activities, is the containment of costs, simultaneously increasing efficiency levels.
It is likely that the food delivery will become part of the habits of Italians, even more permanently, favored by the imposing entry of smart working, which almost certainly will tend to accompany (and in some cases even replace) traditional work. The decline in business customers will gradually witness the desire to return to a collective ritual, to conviviality. Many companies are already taking advantage of the stop to develop new strategies, to rethink their catering activities in a different way. This is one of the advantages that the Italian restaurant sector will enjoy, rich in talent, flair and ingenuity, which make the Italian food and wine tradition the most appreciated in the world. We will be the first in Europe to emerge from the crisis, because we were the first in EU and the third country globally (after China and Korea) to be affected, this represents an advantage that this sector must be able to grasp and to count on, to recover and return to its own greatness.
It is in this moment of forced inactivity that the future must be planned. The market expects a resilient response from the restaurant sector and the restaurants to be ready to open their doors when freedom of movement will be regained, in order to conquer a completely new normalcy, characterized by the good and healthy food of the – albeit reinvented – Italian agri-food tradition.
ITA0039 | 100% Italian Taste Certification supports the operators of the Italian restaurant sector, in our country and abroad, promoting the defense and protection of the agri-food tradition, against fakes and counterfeiting, in partnership with Coldiretti and the Filiera Agricola Italiana, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and by ANRA and IFSE.